Supreme Court orders retrial against one defendant in Munch theft

( dpa ) - The Norwegian Supreme Court on Friday ordered a new trial against one of three men sentenced for his part in the 2004 armed robbery of two paintings by Norwegian artist Edvard Munch.

Alleged ringleader Bjorn Hoen who was sentenced to nine years in April 2007 was awarded a new trial.

The court ruled that his two co-defendants were to serve longer jail terms, citing that the stolen works were "national treasures."

One of the defendants was to serve six years, the other was to serve 10.5 years as opposed to earlier terms of five and 9.5 years.

A week ago, the Supreme Court heard arguments from lawyers including Morten Furuholmen, who represented Hoen, that a book deal signed by a key police witness and a 40-year-old man cleared in the appeal court trial could have influenced the sentencing.

Furuholmen said had he known of the deal he would have pursued a different line of questioning when he cross-examined the two.

The book has been put on hold.

The paintings - The Scream and The Madonna - suffered puncture holes and damage due to moisture since the protective glass was smashed in the August 2004 theft.

Details of how police recovered the two masterpieces from an Oslo warehouse in August 2006 have remained sealed.

Munch, who lived from 1863 to 1944, is considered one of Europe's most important expressionist artists. He made several versions of the two recovered works.

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